Volvo XC40 — A Scandinavian treat

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Volvo completed its new three-vehicle crossover SUV lineup this spring by adding its smallest and least expensive model — the 2019 XC40. We think it may be the best of the three, which also includes the award-winning mid-sized three-row XC90 and the compact XC60. The XC40 successfully translates the distinctive look of Volvo's larger SUVs into a smaller package.

The XC40 checks most of our boxes bringing its first-class interior and infotainment system to this sub-compact entry as well as quick, satisfying performance from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder making 248-horsepower and 258-pound-feet of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic with standard all-wheel drive, and a suite of cutting-edge safety features.

The XC40 goes head-to-head in the luxury world with such entries as the BMW X1, the Audi Q3, the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLA250 and Lexus NX 300; and it should be very competitive in the segment.

Performance and luxury seem to go hand in hand, and the XC40 with its turbocharged engine fits the bill very well. Switch from the default mode to the Dynamic mode and you can launch the XC40 from 0-to-60 in as little as 6.2 seconds. And the Volvo doesn't slow down at higher speeds covering a quarter mile in 14.8 seconds at 95 mph.
We found the shifts from the eight-speed to be swift and smooth. And although we drove the base Momentum trim, the XC40 felt well planted on our rural curving road test track. The XC40 drives small and is quick to change direction. We particularly enjoyed the car's small diameter steering wheel and light steering effort. Note that the upper level R-Design comes with a sport tuned suspension and bigger wheels and might feel even better pushed hard on the twisties.

Volvo has hit the styling nail on the head giving the XC40 a Volvo family look while making it attractive in its own right. The XC40 gets Volvo’s signature Thor’s hammer daytime running lights, which compliment a new interpretation of Volvo’s grill. The crossover has a strong, structured profile with large wheels, wheel arches and an 8.3-inch ride height providing a true SUV feeling. The rear is highlighted by broad shoulders and large taillights that flow down from the roofline and around the corner into the fenders.

Inside, the cabin is as attractive as you would expect from the designers of the recent S90 sedan and XC60 and XC90 crossovers. A large touchscreen that basically functions as a nine-inch iPad sits front and center and includes virtually every climate, audio and vehicle setting. It will probably be a head scratcher at first, but once used to it, it will become second nature. Since the XC40 was our fourth Volvo in recent months, we jumped right in. Included are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

Fit and finish is first class with stitched nappa leather seats with suede inserts and aluminum trim that came with a design that looked like long rows of dashes. Volvo calls the trim "Cutting Edge." And included in our test vehicle were bright orange carpeting, door panels, center console trim. Volvo is perhaps pandering to younger customers with these fashion statements, but hey, we liked it. While it worked for us, the XC40 can be purchased in more conservative colors.

The front seats proved comfortable and rear-seat passengers are afforded more legroom than is the norm for the segment. And there is scads of headroom. Included are 21 cubic feet of cargo space behind the seats giving the XC40 a true four-adult-long-trip persona. There is ample storage space up front including a trash can built into the center console.

While the XC40 is loaded with standard safety as you might expect from Volvo, you will still have to pay for some things that should be standard including blindspot monitoring with cross traffic alert that comes as part of a $1,100 Vision package. One interesting standard feature is Volvo City Safety that can warn the driver if it senses an imminent collision with a vehicle, pedestrian, bicyclist or animal.

The XC40 comes in just two trim levels — Momentum and R-Design. Both trims are well equipped with R-Design adding exterior styling enhancements, larger wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and a few more luxury features. But you can load up the Momentum, which starts at $36,195 including destination charge, with numerous extras including a 500-watt, 18-speaker Harman-Kardon sound system. With several options our test vehicle carried a bottom line of $44,410.

The new XC40 is built at Volvo's plant in Ghent, Belgium.

Base price: $36,195; as driven, $44,410
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 248 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 258 foot-pounds @ 1,800 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 106.4 inches
Length: 174.2 inches
Curb weight: 3,629 pounds
Turning circle: NA
Cargo capacity: 47.2 cubic feet
Luggage capacity: 21 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 14.2 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 23 city, 31 highway, 26 combined
0-60: 6.2 seconds (Car and Driver)

The Good
• First-class interior interior
• Spacious for a small SUV
• Pleasing performance
• Full slate of available safety features

The Bad
• Learning curve for infotainment system

The Ugly
• Blindspot warning $1,100 option